When the power goes out, you don’t want to be left in the cold. Prepare for emergency situations by having alternative heat sources available.
Most people can live a few days without electricity.
Light a few candles, get the grill ready, and make use of your stock of canned goods in the pantry.
Living without heat isn’t as easy. If your heating source suddenly stops operating, you can expect your house to start cooling down immediately.
According to research published by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, a starting indoor temperature of 68 degrees Fahrenheit can cool to 57 to 59 degrees Fahrenheit within the first few hours.
Keeping your family warm during a power outage requires the use of alternative heat sources.
Remember, extra sweaters and warm blankets will only get you so far in a blizzard.
Having an efficient heating source will not only provide essential heat for your home, but may also allow you to cook meals.
While a working fireplace is the most convenient option for heating your home during a power outage, not every home is equipped with one.
Fortunately, there are some other excellent heating source options.
Alternative Heat Sources
1. Kerosene Heater
Portable kerosene heaters can provide temporary heat during power outages.
This traditional heat source is often used as a supplemental form of heat but can easily warm up a room if the furnace stops working.
However, there are some precautions you should take when using a kerosene heater to prevent injury, fire, and other safety risks.
Newer models of kerosene heaters are often packed with safety features, but operator errors can put users in harms way.
To safely use a kerosene heater, you should have proper ventilation to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning or asphyxiation.
During use, it is important to keep a door or window slightly open to maintain a flow of fresh air.
Kerosene heaters should also never be left unattended due to the risk of fires and explosions.
You can reduce these risks by always operating the heater according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
When shopping for a kerosene heater to use during emergencies, opt for a “ventless” model that releases minimal fumes.
Always have the heater in the ‘off’ position when filling the kerosene heater with fuel, and make sure that the unit is cool to the touch.
In addition, you should never fill a kerosene heater indoors. Always refill the tank outside.
2. Propane Heater
A propane heater offers a fast and effective way to heat up your home when an emergency strikes.
These types of space heaters are highly popular due to their portability, affordability, and overall convenience.
When shopping for a propane heater, be sure to choose a unit that is rated for indoor use.
Do not use a heater inside your house that is designed exclusively for outdoor use.
Propane is an excellent storage fuel as it has an indefinite shelf life.
It is approved by the U.S. government as a clean fuel and has no greenhouse emissions.
It is also highly efficient in heating. In fact, at 2,500 BTUs, propane offers more than double the efficiency of natural gas.
By keeping a healthy supply on hand at all times, you can be prepared for extended power outages.
However, there are some safety issues to be aware of.
Portable propane heaters are designed for temporary use and should not be used long-term due to the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
CO is an odorless, colorless, and highly poisonous gas that can occur due to incomplete combustion.
Without exposure to fresh air, CO poisoning can result in death by asphyxiation.
3. Wood-Burning Stove
If you have access to an abundance of wood, having a wood-burning stove can be a cost-friendly way to keep your house warm during a power outage.
Wood stoves can be installed near a window and a pipe chimney can be constructed to help channel the smoke out of the house.
Once installed, a wood-burning stove can be a reliable source of heat for both warmth and cooking.
Modern wood-burning stoves are triple walled for safety.
During use, the smoke travels up the center of the chimney and the triple walls create two passages around the central chimney for air flow.
As cool air from the outside enters the outer passageway and flows downwards, it is warmed by the fire before traveling back up through the second passageway.
This helps to always keep the outer passageway cool which reduces the possibility of a fire.
Be aware that if you do choose to purchase a wood-burning stove for power outages, you should get one that uses regular wood and not exclusively wood pellets.
While wood pellets can be advantageous as they produce more heat per pound than regular wood, they have their drawbacks.
If you run out of wood pellets and are not able to get to a store to purchase more, you could freeze as wood pellets cannot be used with standard firewood.
4. Catalytic Gas Heater
If you don’t like the idea of stockpiling fuel, you may be interested in a catalytic gas heater.
Not only are these heaters highly efficient, but they also burn very clean.
This type of portable heater provides flameless, explosion-proof heat by breaking down molecules.
A catalytic gas heater can be used with natural gas or liquid propane gas which creates catalytic combustion in the presence of oxygen, resulting in the creation of carbon dioxide, heat, and water.
Inside a catalytic gas heater is a ceramic element that provides a bed in which the gas can burn.
As the burning gas starts working, the ceramic element heats up and radiates heat into the room.
You can find catalytic gas heaters in a range of sizes to warm both small and large rooms.
There are a number of advantages to using a catalytic gas heater as your heat source of choice during a power outage.
First, these portable heaters do not require electricity or a stockpile of natural gas.
As natural gas pumping stations provide their own source of power, they are likely to still be operating even during a power outage.
5. Non-Wood Burning Fireplace
Even if you don’t have a wood-burning fireplace in your home, you can take advantage of the heat from a non-wood burning fire.
There are a number of fireplace types that can be used as a heat source during a power outage.
One of the most common is a gas-burning fireplace. A free-standing gas fireplace uses a pipe which allows you to install it in any room of your home.
If you choose a direct-vented model, you will need a chimney for ventilation.
An ethanol-burning fireplace is another option to consider.
Not only are these fireplaces easy to install, they are also available in a wide range of contemporary designs to fit well in any space.
Ethanol-burning fireplaces typically contain burners that can be filled and refilled with bioethanol fuel for repeated use.
This type of fireplace is environmentally-friendly, odorless, and contains controls that allow you to easily adjust the temperature for optimal comfort.
While fairly new to the market, alcohol gel fireplaces are another option for warming your home.
These fireplaces appear to have normal flames and even create the crackly noise that wood-burning fireplaces create.
They are also portable and can be easily moved from room to room.
They provide a reasonable amount of heat without the need for complex installations or vents.
Heating Your Home in a Power Outage
Heating your home without electricity can be a challenge, especially if you depend entirely on your furnace to keep your home warm.
Whether or not you expect for a power outage to occur, having access to an alternative heat source can provide great peace of mind in the event of a future heating emergency.
Alternative heating sources can greatly vary from inexpensive portable heaters to the installation of fixed units that can provide safe and reliable supplement heat throughout the chillier months of the year.
By choosing the latter, you won’t be forced to camp out in a single room of your home while you wait for the electricity to return.
No matter what type of alternative heating source you choose, it is important to consider the safety risks involved and take the necessary precautions to avoid fires, burn injuries, and similar hazards.
By understanding how to safely use an alternative heat source in a power outage, you can keep your family warm no matter the outside conditions or emergency scenarios.